Yesterday, July 26, 2009, Rickey Henderson (on behalf of Rickey) accepted his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Alongside Jim Rice, the former left fielder of nine different teams with a career spanning 19 years accepted this honor in his swanky custom-made cream suit that he has supposedly had for ten years. For this week’s post, I have decided to honor this great great man with a collection of stats and records (he has many), quotes (he’s said plenty), and photos.
Born on Christmas Day back in 1958, Rickey was destined to play him some baseball. He debuted in June of 1979 for the Oakland A’s, and by 1980 he had already become the third person in history with 100 bases stolen within one season. Two years later, he set the major league record for bases stolen within a single season with 130.
He only played for the Mets in 1999-2000, but during his time he managed to pull some ‘Rickeys’ (taken from Fantistic): “The Mets were staying in a hotel less than a mile from Cinergy Field in Cincinnati. While some players walked, most took the team bus. A few minutes after they arrived — again it was less than a mile – the last players off the bus noticed a stretched limo that had just pulled up. Of course, Rickey emerged from the back seat. “
Just to throw some stats out there: 1,406 career stolen bases, 2, 295 career runs, 81 career lead off home runs (he is considered by some to be the greatest lead off hitter EVER), and led the AL in number of bases stolen 12 times (6 of which were the Major League leader as well). Yeah, the man likes to steal him some bases.
This quote is very popular and is a great story while we’re on the topic of stolen bases. Moments after breaking Lou Brock’s stolen base record, Rickey stated that “Lou Brock was a great base stealer, but today, I am the greatest of all-time.” Lou Brock was right next to him.
Few more stats: Rickey was a 10 time All Star selection, 3 time Silver Slugger winner, was 1989 ALCS MVP, 1990 AL MVP, and even won a Gold Glove.
Great hitter or not, he still had his downfalls. When he was Nolan Ryan’s 5000th strikeout, he stated that “It gave me no chance. He just blew it by me. But it’s an honor. I’ll have another paragraph in all the baseball books. I’m already in the books three or four times.”
Also on the subject of hitting, at one game in Seattle, Rickey had unfortunately struck out. The next batter passed him and as he did, he heard him say to himself “Don’t worry, Rickey, you’re still the best.”
He was the Mets’ hitting coach for a hot minute there back in 2007. Wonder what happened…
I shall leave you with my favorite three Rickey quotes and stories. One is about music, which is near and dear to my heart. When asked if he had a Garth Brooks album, Rickey replied in true Rickey fashion “Rickey doesn’t have albums. Rickey has CDs.”
From Fantistic, just to show you how ridiculous Rickey really is. “In the early 1980s, the Oakland A’s accounting department was freaking out. The books were off $1 million. After an investigation, it was determined Rickey was the reason why. The GM asked him about a $1 million bonus he had received and Rickey said instead of cashing it, he framed it and hung it on a wall at his house.”
And finally, probably what defines Rickey. This is another from Fantistic. “To this day and dating back 25 years, before every game he plays, Henderson stands completely naked in front of a full length locker room mirror and says, “Ricky’s the best,” for several minutes.”
Oh Rickey. You’re incorrigible. But you are the best. The Greatest, as a matter of fact.